Entomology FAQs | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

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Common Insects

Common Insects of the Los Angeles Basin

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Entomology FAQs

What is Entomology?

Entomology is the study of insects. 

What is an insect?

Adult insects have three pairs of legs, one pair of antennae, and usually two pairs of wings. Insect bodies are organized into three distinctive parts: head, thorax, and abdomen.

How many specimens are in the entomology collections?

The entomology collections include more than 5.8 million specimens of insects and spiders. It is the largest collection in Southern California and contains specimens from all over the world.

What are the strengths of your collections?

Ants, phorid flies, scarab beetles, and moths from North and Central America are some of the strengths of the collections.

What are the differences between butterflies and moths?

The easiest way to distinguish between butterflies and moths is to look at their antennae. Moths have simple threadlike or 'feathery' antenna without a club. Butterflies have a thickened club or hook on the tip of the antenna, and their antennae are never 'feathery.'

I found something moving on the wall and ceiling in my house. They look like a little tube of sand about half an inch long. What are they?

They are likely to be Case-bearing Clothes Moth caterpillars. The Case-bearing Clothes Moth (Phereoeca sp.) is common in the Los Angeles Basin. The larvae carry a flattened case made of fine sand and debris. The case is about a quarter to half an inch long in general. They are often found on the ceiling or walls of houses and other structures. Larvae feed on insect remains, fur, flannel, wool, spider webs, bat and bird droppings, fabrics, and hair; they are reported to damage wool carpets in Southern California. Thorough vacuuming should help to control them. The adult moths are very small and are rarely seen. The first report of a Phereoeca moth occurring in California was on January, 28 1986. Learn more >